21 February 2009

An Obligatory Obligatory Post

Unfortunately, dear readers, I find that I’ve made plans or promises for a few different posts that I’ve not yet had time to work on. First and foremost is the post on the second lecture I saw by Fr Justin Sinaites. I’m not sure if I will be able to get all of the material I wanted, so I’m hoping to go ahead and work with what I have, sometime in the next week or so. Second, I mentioned in the ‘St Photius the Magus?’ post that I intended to post a little something from my thesis. I might actually do that before the Fr Justin post since it doesn’t involve writing anything, only formatting it and making some editorial changes.

There are probably others as well, but I recently told Andrea Elizabeth that I might post a quote which formed the nucleus of a college paper I wrote on ‘mystical language’, and I intend to fulfill that obligation now. She had expressed an interest in the paper itself, but an initial look in a box that seemed to contain most of my other college papers turned up nothing, and I’m not sure whether I would want to expose my juvenilia to the world anyway (or should I say ‘expose the world to my juvenilia’)!

At any rate, as I told Andrea Elizabeth, when I wrote the paper I was very caught up in some sort of attempt to describe aspects of the faith in highly 'intellectual' terms drawn from Russian and continental philosophy. I initially found this in Edith Wyschogrod’s very interesting Saints and Postmodernism: Revisioning Moral Philosophy (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1990), p. 49. Of course, even then I was rarely satisfied until I’d tracked down the source of an interesting quote, so using my 30% employee discount at Barnes & Noble I actually purchased the book she was quoting from (and giving the wrong page number from): the often baffling Heterologies: Discourse on the Other, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1997), by the French cultural theorist Michel de Certeau. According to de Certeau, ‘Mystic discourse is a modus loquendi. It is the outcome of an entire set of operations on and in the shared social text. It is an artifact (a production) created by the labor of putting language to death [italics his]’ (p. 159).

Now keep in mind that I did not read, and still have not read, the entire essay in which this passage appears. I interpreted it largely through the filter of its context in Wyschogrod, as well as my own undergraduate preoccupations, despite going through the trouble of obtaining the source.


Felix Culpa said...

Fr Justin is an old and dear friend of mine, but every time I see the name "Fr Justin Sinaites" I think "Fr Justin of the Infected Sinuses."

Andrea Elizabeth said...

Aaron, thanks so much for trying to track that down. Are you saying you bought that book because of my inquiry? I'll pay you back!

I'm not sure St Euthymius of Tŭrnovo would agree with de Certeau. Words are more associated with life in our context, n'est-ce pas?

And I haven't forgotten about Fr. Justin either (insert Final Jeopardy music:) I am wishing I had brought my younger children to that talk though. George tried to post a blog on it yesterday but his computer has a flakey modem and it wouldn't work. Good things come to those who wait though - no pressure.

aaronandbrighid said...

Oh, no, I would never buy a book like that from B&N now, if at all! This was in college, at a time when it made me feel smart to have books like that around.

The issue you raise of apparent disagreement between St Euthymius & de Certeau is an enormous one that it is futile to try to address in the combox! In order to really explain what I think I'll have to take some time to really write a long post on it. Suffice to say, I think there is a sense in which both are correct, with, perhaps, some equivocation. Not to say that de Certeau's whole philosophy of language, which I don't pretend to understand but which I can guess at, is exactly Orthodox, but only that he has hit upon a valid insight.

Andrea Elizabeth said...

I kind of felt that way about his compatriot Derrida when I attempted to read some of him. I wrote a few posts on it at the time.